In recent weeks, FishbowlLA has written about two separate Variety.com blog posts that alleged the time-stamps of Emma Stone and Sundance Film Festival news items on Deadline.com were false. In both cases, Variety‘s BlogDogger–based on some stated live Web monitoring–insinuated that Deadline.com must have jerry-rigged the date-time stamps of these particular articles, to make it appear that the items were posted earlier than when they actually were.
Baloney, counters the author of both Deadline.com items, Mike Fleming. Speaking to FishbowlLA today via telephone from New York, he explained that he has the ability to direct-post articles to Deadline.com and did so with the first article in question, about Stone’s project Little White Corvette.
“I had the story done the night before,” Fleming explains. “I wake up early every morning here in New York, before driving my daughter to school. My computer is always on, and even though I had been in touch with GK Films the previous day and was told I could post the item sooner, I figured I would just break it in the morning.” In other words, Fleming says the 6:00 am ET/3:00 am PT time-stamp on the Stone item reflects what he did at his computer the morning of Thursday, January 5.
With regards to the second Deadline.com item in dispute by BlogDogger, a January 23 report about the Sundance sale to Fox Searchlight of The Surrogate, Fleming stated once again that the time the article was posted is that of the displayed time-stamp. The only difference in this case is that because Fleming had to attend a Park City screening of The Bachelorette, the click-posting was taken care of in concert with Deadline.com managing editor Kinsey Lowe.
“I looked at the Hollywood Reporter on my iPhone and did not see a [Surrogate sale] story,” Fleming recalls. “On Variety, I saw a story that only said that Fox Searchlight was in negotiations to buy The Surrogate. The reason I did not remove the EXCLUSIVE tag from my report is that I provided the information about Fox Searchlight paying $6 million for worldwide rights. To me, that was the major bit of news.”
This is important, because the exclusivity aspect of Deadline.com’s Surrogate sale report was actually the bigger beef BlogDogger had. “Later on, Variety put that [$6 million info] in,” he adds. “If they had had the whole story before me, I would have been happy to remove the EXCLUSIVE tag.”
In fact, Fleming says he did something similar from the airport in Salt Lake City, for a different Deadline.com item. When made aware of some simultaneous THR reporting, he changed his EXCLUSIVE to a BREAKING.
Fleming says the only time Deadline.com has ever willfully altered article time-stamps is in order to bump down an “unimportant” item and keep a previously published piece of much bigger news at the top of the DH home page.